Aston Villa 1 Stoke City 4 match report: Peter Odemwingie and Peter Crouch put Villa to the sword after early Christian Benteke opener

The Potters recovered to win their second away league match this season

villa park

After a victory over Chelsea that promised a corner had been turned, Villa slipped back into their old calamitous ways on Sunday, sinking to a ninth defeat at home this season, moreover against a Stoke City side whose last win away had been back in August, at West Ham United.

No Stoke side had won at Villa Park in 14 attempts since 1965, yet this was ultimately a stroll for Mark Hughes’ team, who climbed above Villa to 10th in the Premier League after suffering only one defeat in nine matches. With 37 points, they can probably consider themselves safe from relegation.

Villa had been in front after five minutes, with a buoyant home crowd anticipating a greatly different outcome. By the end, the ground was almost deserted, save for the Stoke contingent, who chanted “4-1 to the rugby team” before clearing their throats for another rendition of “Delilah”.

It is an outdated label now. If there was an illustration that Stoke have moved on from the physical, one-dimensional model that was their former identity it came in their third goal, started and finished by Steven N’Zonzi with 15 or so passes in between.

The goal had Hughes feeling a pleasant glow of satisfaction. “We’ve moved on from that, there is a bit more too us now,” he said. “The perception of the team is not going to go away overnight but I’m happy that people are noticing that there is a change in style.


“It takes time. Sometimes in away games, in particular, we have reverted to type a bit but we kept the ball well today and did not allow Villa to develop any momentum.”

The first five minutes had suggested a different course of events as Villa carved through the Stoke defence to take the lead. Christian Benteke drove towards the middle and slipped the ball wide left to Ryan Bertrand, whose pass towards Fabian Delph should have been cut out by Geoff Cameron but was not, allowing Delph in behind to cut the ball back to Benteke, who took one touch before driving it left-footed into the roof of Asmir Begovic’s net.

It took Stoke until the 20th minute to muster a shot, Peter Odemwingie skimming one over the bar. Two minutes later, though, they were level, as the unravelling of Villa began. Odemwingie hoicked the ball into the Villa box and followed it, so that when Peter Crouch held his own in a grapple with Nathan Baker to nod it down again, he was there to control it on his chest and poke it past Brad Guzan.

As a goal it was a throwback to the Tony Pulis days, a scruffy finish on the end of a hopeful build-up. The next was cleaner, although not from Villa’s perspective.

Marko Arnautovic, the Austrian midfielder who cuts a lumbering figure but has a sharp brain and a deft touch, backheeled a pass towards Erik Pieters, overlapping down the left. He looked up to spot Crouch, who had found himself a vacant spot in the penalty area despite being outnumbered by Villa defenders and neatly sidefooted the cutback from Pieters to score his ninth goal of the season.

Premier League Sunday - as it happened

Villa were not helped by losing Karim El Ahmadi and Andreas Weimann to injury, obliging Paul Lambert to make a double change after 33 minutes, after which he struggled to find a balance.

Then came the greater blow of a third Stoke goal, three minutes before half-time, put away by N’Zonzi at the culmination of a move, if it can be called that, involving 17 passes. Most of them were in their own half, but what it did exemplify was the instinctive readiness to keep possession that Hughes has instilled.

Finally the ball was thumped forward, but with purpose, finding Arnautovic ranging into space on the left. When Leandro Bacuna failed to intercept, Arnautovic drove the ball across the penalty area, where it clipped the heels of Baker before finding N’Zonzi, who had time and space to drive his shot into the corner of Guzan’s goal.

The second half was notable for Villa’s failure to create more than the occasional threat, the frustration getting the better of Benteke, who roared and pointed at referee Mark Clattenburg when he failed to award a penalty against Cameron and was booked for his trouble.

Stoke picked off a fourth goal at the death. Again Bacuna was easily taken out by Arnautovic, allowing the Austrian to cut a ball back for Cameron, who had made his way stealthily into the centre to expose Villa’s defensive shortcomings again.

Aston Villa (4-3-3): Guzan 7/10; Bacuna 4, Vlaar 6, Baker 5, Bertrand 6; El Ahmadi 7, Westwood 6, Delph 7; Weimann 6, Benteke 7, Agbonlahor 5

Substitutes:  Albrighton (El Ahmadi 33) 5;  Sylla (Weimann 33) 6; Holt (Westwood 73) 5.

Substitutes not used: Steer (gk), Bennett, Clark, Robinson.

Stoke City (4-2-3-1): Begovic 7; Cameron 7, Shawcross 7, Wilson 7, Pieters 7; Palacios 7, Whelan 6; Odemwingie 6, Nzonzi 7, Arnautovic 8; Crouch 7.

Substitutes: Muniesa (Pieters 78) 6.

Substitutes not used: Sorensen (gk), Shea, Guidetti, Wilkinson, Shotton, Ward.

Man of the match: Arnautovic.

Match rating: 6/10.

Referee: Mark Clattenburg (Tyne & Wear)

Bookings:  Aston Villa: El Ahmadi, Benteke, Albrighton, Bacuna, Baker. Stoke City: Palacios.

Attendance: 30,292.

Suggested Topics
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
A still from a scene cut from The Interview showing North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's death.
'That's the legal bit done. Now on to the ceremony!'
voicesThe fight for marriage equality isn't over yet, says Siobhan Fenton
Life and Style
Approaching sale shopping in a smart way means that you’ll get the most out of your money
life + styleSales shopping tips and tricks from the experts
Arts and Entertainment
Bianca Miller and Katie Bulmer-Cooke are scrutinised by Lord Sugar's aide Nick Hewer on The Apprentice final
tvBut Bianca Miller has taken on board his comments over pricing
in picturesWounded and mangy husky puppy rescued from dump
newsAstonishing moment a kangaroo takes down a drone
Life and Style
Duchess of Cambridge standswith officials outside of the former wartime spy centre in Bletchley Park
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'